Growing up as a millennial, social media has always been very much integrated with my daily life. In high school, it would be coming home to chat with friends on MSN messenger, then came Facebook and now, Instagram.
As harmless as we may intend for it to be, casual browsing is often a slippery slope. What starts as a quick check on Instagram can turn into hours stuck in a rabbit hole of flawless faces, bodies, food and even lives, that instigate a quiet bubbling of toxic comparison.
Starting with innocent intentions
I’m a visually stimulated person, so I often turn to Instagram for inspiration, whether it be for creative content, fun new recipes, fitness videos or to get the latest in health and wellness. But more often than not, instead of finding the inspiration I’m looking for, I end up feeling demotivated as I keep scrolling and comparing myself to the seemingly unattainable lives of others.
While I hate to admit it, I can acknowledge I’ve become of a slave to Instagram. The first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night is check my newsfeed and notifications, no exceptions. An Instagram binge leaves me feeling drained, mentally and physically and frustrated, because in the end I’ve achieved nothing. These sessions often leave me feeling like I’ve taken 10 steps back.
Finding the solution
I run my own food blog so I believe the solution isn’t as simple as just cutting out Instagram completely. I don’t blame the app entirely either. I still think it’s a great way for people to connect and find inspiration. Ultimately I know it’s my own inability to filter the content I see in a constructive manner that has lead me to feeling discontented and inadequate.
To help me understand how to navigate social media in a healthy and uplifting way, I spoke to Certified Health Coach, Amanda Luukinen, who supports women to heal overlooked aspects of their lives that may be limiting their health and ability to enjoy life.
3 Tips for Healthy Social Media Usage by Amanda Luukinen
Just as Joyce mentioned, we can start out using Instagram and other social media platforms with the best of intentions, and that’s where you also want to end up after your social experience. Begin by asking yourself, “what are my intentions in using social media?” This can help to clarify why you’re using social media and give you a place to come back to. Remind yourself of your intention before you begin your social experience, and as often as you need to stay on track. Your intentions may change over time, but the key is to continue checking in with yourself.
Awareness of your mental and emotional state is a key component to using social media in a healthy and positive way. Take a quick assessment of your mood before you open your social platform of choice. Then, take an assessment how you feel after. You can write this in a journal or take a mental note. Notice any changes—they could appear subtle at first, but the more you do this, the more aware you will become and can pinpoint when and why your mood begins to change.
You are in control of your social experience, and setting boundaries is one way you can maintain that control. These boundaries can be around who you will follow, what content you will “like” and who you will engage with. Setting time boundaries is equally important, and there are even smartphone controls to record and limit your time usage. In addition, time boundaries include how long you will spend as well as what times of day you will use social media. Boundaries are created to maintain healthy, thriving relationships, so remind yourself of this as you set and adhere to your new boundaries.
The full impact of social media is yet to be determined, but there’s no doubt it can be both healthy and unhealthy. The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to create the experience you want. I have experienced the mood changes, comparison game, frustration and self-blame, and so have my friends and clients. Being aware, setting intentions and adhering to boundaries can create a healthier online experience.